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Pokemon Go Fest Suffers Connectivity And Server Problems

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Pokemon Go suffers more technical issues, but this time on a much more micro level, highlighting need to support special events

When Pokémon Go launched in July 2016, its popularity was so great that the IT architecture supporting the application struggled to cope with the demand, and a few cyberattacks along the way. 

Fast forward a year and developer Niantic Labs has fixed the vast majority of grievances and made the app more stable. But at the first ever Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, some of the problems reared their head again, at least on a more localised scale. 

As many as 20,000 players descended upon grant Park in Chicago, lured by the prospect of catching legendary monsters, special challenges and other perks, but many were left unable to connect to the game. 

pokemon-go (1)

Pokémon Go 

According to The Verge, players struggled with poor mobile coverage and complained of server issues. Indeed, even those who were able to connect found the game crashed or logged them out within seconds. 

Niantic has reportedly apologised for the problems and offered to refund the $20 cost of a ticket, provide $100 of in-game currency and automatically add a legendary Pokémon to all attendee’s accounts. 

The incident highlights the challenge of providing connectivity to special events. In the US, most stadiums and arenas are equipped with public Wi-Fi and enhanced cellular, while many venues are following suit. 

Small cells have long been touted as a way of boosting capacity in densely populated areas and operators deploy temporary infrastructure at major events like Glastonbury or Winter Wonderland. 

After the launch issues last year, Niantic used Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in a bid to scale up its infrastructure. When the game launched in Australia and New Zealand, the territories were supposed to account for four percent of overall demand. It’s actual demand was 50 times the targeted and ten times worse than Niantic’s ‘Worse Case Scenario’. 

A staggered launch was supposed to help ensure sufficient capacity but such was the excitement, many looked to bypass the Google Play Store on Android, leading to the creation of hundreds of malicious apps looking to capitalise. 

Quiz: What do you know about video game technology?